Mesa County GOP: County Clerk Tina Peters’ loss of 574 ballots “trivial”

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) may have violated Colorado laws governing elected officials’ conduct of elections. (Photo: YouTube)

The Mesa County Republican Party is trying to minimize the severity of Tina Peters’ loss of 574 ballots from the 2019 general election. Peters left them in a collection box, forgetting to count them. The Mesa County GOP characterized the matter in a February 24, 2020 press release (pdf) as “trivial” and “unfortunate.” The GOP said it was not trying to “diminish the significance of the errors,” and at the same time claimed the matter had been subject to “irresponsible sensationalism” because “no ballots were tampered with or lost,” and “no vote was changed or altered.”

The Republican Party has long made election integrity one of their prime issues, but apparently not so much when one of their own fails to count a significant number of legitimately-cast ballots.

It’s no wonder the GOP is trying to minimize the loss. The ramifications for Tina Peters could be severe, up to and including recall, and/or criminal penalties including fines, imprisonment or both.

Ballots left uncounted in a collection box are in fact tampered with through neglect. The lost ballots represent votes altered through suppression. Ballots left uncounted also renders false the vote tally the County Clerk reported to the Secretary of State.

“Neglect” and “failure to perform duties” by a county clerk are crimes under Colorado law:

Colorado laws governing the conduct of elections include “neglect” and “failure to perform their duties” among the list of behaviors that constitutes “corrupt conduct” of an election official, and says such conduct is punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both:

“1-13-107. Violation of duty.

Any public officer, election official, or other person upon whom any duty is imposed by this code who violates, neglects, or fails to perform such duty or is guilty of corrupt conduct … and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in section 1-13-111.”

and,

1-13-111. Penalties for election offenses.

In all cases where an offense is denominated by this code as being a misdemeanor and no penalty is specified, the offender, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

 

Mesa County Jail

and,

1-13-112. Offenses relating to mail ballots.

Any person who, by use of force or other means … falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits any mail ballot before or after it has been cast, or who destroys, defaces, mutilates, or tampers with such a ballot shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than eighteen months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Arguably, a crime was committed

Through neglect and failure to do her duty, Tina Peters’ election department illegally tampered with and altered 574 ballots by treating them as though they did not exist. The law does not state that it doesn’t apply if the tampering was done unintentionally. Tina Peters was elected to be ultimately responsible for the conduct of her department.

If a driver hits a pedestrian, leaves the scene of the accident and is later caught, the driver is not excused because hitting the pedestrian was unintentional. The matter goes on to be adjudicated and the driver punished, whatever the circumstances.

The same applies here.

If political races in Mesa County were more competitive and a Democrat had won by a few hundred votes, you can be certain Mesa County Republicans would be howling from the rooftops that neglecting 574 ballots in a ballot box was a lot more than just an unforgivable breach of public trust. They’d say it was also a crime under the law.

And they very likely would have been correct.

  10 comments for “Mesa County GOP: County Clerk Tina Peters’ loss of 574 ballots “trivial”

  1. Sometimes it is better to accedenlly not count volts than to suddenly find 574 ballots in someones trunk, all for demonrats.

  2. I am concerned about the election, but the county clerk has other responsibilities also. We would have heard if there was a problem with motor vehicle licensing by now, because the vehicle owner would know if their renewal application was funded. What I wonder about are all the liens placed on personal and real property because of loans or non-payment to contractors. Or releases of those liens when notes are being paid. How is the rest of the office running under a leader who can’t even follow instructions left by a predecessor.

  3. I voted at the last minute and dropped my ballot in that very box . . . . I’d like to know if my ballot is among these uncounted ones. If so, it’s not trivial, not to me anyway.

  4. This puts all of democracy at risk. We already have many apoplectic who don’t vote because the say their vote doesn’t matter. When the Republican Party says it doesn’t matter it reinforces it. If people don’t vote then those who do control us all. Vote blue people!

  5. Slight of hand? Casual displacement? Acts by the same people, year after year, who have access to ballots,whether paper or digital, likely conceal what they’re doing by their casual manner,l”just doing my job”, approach. Altering election outcomes is nothing new to practiced hands.

  6. Slight of hand? Casual displacement? Acts by the same people, year after year, who have access to ballots,whether paper or digital, likely conceal what they’re doing by their casual manner,l”just doing my job”, approach. Altering election outcomes is nothing new to practiced hands.

  7. I once voted by absentee ballot in a bond election for some needed Fire Dept and EMS equipment in a metropolitan district in Jefferson County, Colorado (about 36 years ago). The ballots were counted and the bond issue failed by 2 votes. Then, someone responsible for assisting with the ballot counts spoke up and indicated there were 4 absentee ballots. My wife and I, and another couple, were travelling out of state at the time of the election and voted by absentee ballot. All 4 of these votes were in favor of the bond and we got the equipment the community needed. All votes count – ALWAYS. I turned 18 in 1969 and I have NEVER missed casting a vote in any election, anywhere I’ve lived, for any purpose, large or small, over the last 51 years. You shouldn’t either. It’s your duty as an American in our democratic republic. And it’s the elections office duty to make certain all properly executed and delivered votes are counted.

    • Thanks for all this riveting information. I quit reading the sentinel long time ago so it’s nice to be informed. Also thank you for putting the petition link on the blog.

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